There’s a lack of the titular component in Gravity because it’s set in space.
That I knew. But what I didn’t know until I saw it was that it’s less a film and more an experience. Very few films that have 3D content actually use it in an engaging way, but this one has it in spades. I had a feeling it would be a visual feast because director Alfonso Cuarón‘s Children of Men was a wonder to behold. Amidst the dystopian future, the one thing which eventually struck you was that two scenes ran as a single take for around 20-25 minutes apiece. So you’re not only admiring the film for what it does, but also the way in which is constructed. And we weren’t just talking a couple of actors having a conversation, but large numbers of people onscreen at certain points. If one of them had giggled then you’d be back to square one. I’d love to know how many takes of each scene were required…
Anyway, coming back to the present day and a couple of actors having a conversation is exactly what you have here. However, early on, a lot of the conversation seems inconsequential. Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a one of those technical people who is required, in this case, to attach a new scanning device onto the Hubble telescope, while surprised by regular stargazer Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who enthuses about how much he loves the sunrise from up there, while she is just happy to have completed her first spacework.
Unfortunately, for them, Houston confirm (with a voice provided by Ed Harris) that a stack of space debris is on the way. Without going into too much detail about what happens next, things are not what you’d class as plain sailing and they have to abort their mission and head over to the nearby International Space Station, with Stone rather concerned that there’s a long distance to ‘jetpack’ from A to B while her oxygen supplies are depleting fast.
What you’ll have seen so far, and what follows is an incredible piece of filmmaking. It’s a work of art. It delivered in terms of the spectacle and also in suspense from start to finish, bar about 10 mins to introduce the characters which is fine. If you’ve seen the clip of Sandra Bullock being thrown about after the space debris comes to town, you’ll have seen a taster of what’s to come as that happens quite early on. A particular treat included the occasions when the camera focused on Sandra Bullock’s face, for example, then swung round without you realising, putting you inside her helmet to see everything as she saw it, one of which included the trip to the I.S.S. as they’re tethered together, Clooney in front, so the camera jerks about as per the path they take.
Gravity throws up some surprises along the way, but at 91 minutes is not too brief and not too long. In fact, it’s just right. I often think that around 105 minutes is an optimum length for a film, but had things been dragged out here, we’d only have had an extra 15 minutes of Bullock and Clooney stepping out into space for their mission and it wouldn’t have been necessary.
I’ve read a review that says if you only see one 3D film this year, then make it Gravity. Well, yes, do see this one, but make it at least two as there’s the Hobbit sequel next month.
At first, I was concerned about one aspect of this film – it wasn’t completely filmed in 3D, according to realorfake3d.com – which means I’d normally go and see such a film in 2D, because if something’s worth seeing in 3D then it’s worth filming it that way, too. However, the fact is that the actors were filmed in 3D, but they didn’t actually make the film in space – it was filmed in a small studio at Shepperton. Sorry to break that to you.
I was also wondering that, since there’s no sound in space, there would be a lot of the film held in silence – the trailer had bangs and crashes added on, while the film adheres to the laws of physics – but there’s some wonderful incidental music on display in place of silence sometimes.
Running time: 91 minutes
Released: November 7th 2013
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Producers: Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman
Screenplay: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón
Music: Steven Price
Ryan Stone: Sandra Bullock
Matt Kowalski: George Clooney
Mission Control: Ed Harris
Aningaaq: Orto Ignatiussen
Shariff: Phaldut Sharma
Explorer Captain: Amy Warren
Russian Space Station Captain: Basher Savage
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.